The year was full of lots of transitions for us: home ownership, puppy parenting, and life in a brand new neighborhood on the north side. West Lakeview living is a big change from life in the trendy West Loop, but we have really fallen in love with the neighborhood-- and in just a year, we've amassed a short list of our favorite neighborhood spots. These places (restaurants specifically) are the ones we have to bring guests to when they're visiting or are the ones we always return to for a date night. While the neighborhood is full of great places that we continue to visit, we have a few real favorites-- and Frasca is one of them.
Frasca Pizzeria & Wine Bar
This was one of the first places we dined when we bought in this neighborhood and it's one of the most obvious too: Frasca is the first thing you see when you walk out of the Paulina L Station and is a neighborhood fixture near and dear to me and most of our neighbors up here. The atmosphere is great: cozy and laid back, but still sophisticated with big wood doors, an open kitchen with brick oven, and expansive outdoor seating. They also serve an impressive selection of wines and craft beers... Who needs to go downtown when we have this little gem just up the street?
I'm also a huge fan of their prosciutto pizza with fresh arugula, the Rustica pizza with prosciutto and oven dried tomatoes, and the build your own option, and the Caponata (above) with artichokes, eggplant, red peppers, mushroom, and tangy goat cheese.
Frasca also features some really unique and rustic appetizers that are perfect for sharing. One of my favorites is the polenta fries. Parmesan polenta is sliced thin and cooked until crispy and served with a creamy garlic aioli for dipping. This is one of my 'go to' orders here.
My husband and in-laws were big fans of the calimari at Frasc an we have also sampled their cheesy focaccia with tomato jam, which was simple and flavorful. Most recently we tried a new summer appetizer that I'll be attempting to recreate at home: This crispy sweet corn had a great sweet and charred flavor and was rolled in white truffle oil with parmigiano reggiano and fresh herbs. I loved that it was simple, rustic, and seasonal.
Another signature part of Frasca's menu that is super popular with diners is their selection of charcuterie, cheeses, and seasonal bruschetta. There are about a dozen different kinds of bruschetta on the menu and we recently tried a few a few of them. Big thick slices of rustic bread are toasted and topped with a variety of toppings like ricotta with honey and pistachio, ricotta with balsamic, strawberries, and beets, and mushrooms with truffle oil and pecorino.
Not in the mood for pizza? Frasca has many other options that are just as delicious. I'm a big fan of the Wrightwood Salad, a salad made famous at Frasca's sister restaurant Dunlay's on Clark. This is a serious salad filled with roasted chicken, tomatoes, dried cranberries, avocado, corn, almonds, and goat cheese. The sweet and savory flavor combination is perfect and this is a super satisfying and lighter dinner option.
Not quite as light, but also not pizza... there are a few solid meat and pasta entrees on the menu too. During a chilly winter visit to Frasca I tried an amazing housemade sweet potato gnocchi with Brussels sprouts, apples, and pancetta, in a brown butter sauce. I loved this seasonal combination of ingredients with big pillowy gnocchi. The brown butter was the perfect way to finish this dish: a rich, but light sauce that brought it all together.
We have also been told by several friends that Frasca's brunch is one of the best. So, when my sister and her boyfriend were in town and they requested brunch with good Bloody Mary's we decided to give it a shot... excellent choice! Frasca brunch is rustic and tasty and everything we ate was amazing-- beginning with the warm cinnamon sugar donuts. They were light and fluffy with more of a fried dough than a cakey donut. It was such a great brunch treat for sharing.
For an entree, I gave the Italian Farmhouse Breakfast a try. This rustic breakfast was served on a wooden board with a hot crock filled with spicy tomato sauce, two wood-fired eggs, and a few slices of speck. There were several slices of toasted crostini served on the side, which were perfect for dipping in that spicy flavorful sauce. I loved this dish because it was simple, but well executed... and I ate the entire thing!
If it wasn't already obvious, I'm a big Frasca fan. I love having a pizza and wine bar in walking distance of my home and love that it's become 'our' place. Head up to West Lakeview and check it out soon!